Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

Chris Kazarian

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HAC Assists Falmouth Veteran

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Sat, Feb 17, 2018 @ 06:00 AM
John Martin-2.jpgHAC Event and Resource Development Coordinator Deanna Bussiere (from left) with Army veteran John Martin, Falmoth Toyota General Manager Matt Murphy, and Heroes In Transition Executive Director Nicole Spencer. 

"Since September, all that you’ve done for me, it’s like I hit the jackpot, you know,” John Martin said on the last day of January when HAC, Heroes In Transition and Falmouth Toyota came together to give him a used Toyota Camry.

Last fall, HAC was introduced to Martin through the Falmouth Big Fix. An Army veteran, he was one of 18 recipients of the day of service which saw over 340 volunteers come out to make small home improvements for their neighbors in need.

It was through the event that Keith Trott, HAC’s maintenance supervisor, realized that Martin’s Toyota RAV4 was inoperable, and the cost to fix it was beyond his means. Because Martin suffers from respiratory issues and needs transportation to get to and from his medical appointments, Trott said, finding him a new car was the right thing to do.

Together with HAC, Heroes In Transition, which covers the cost of improvements for veterans’ homes during the Big Fix, agreed to fund the purchase of the used car.

Finding the car was left to Falmouth Toyota General Manager Matt Murphy and his staff. While his company strives to be as charitable as it can, Murphy said, it truly appreciates moments like this when it can “drill that down to one individual and do something that’s hopefully special for someone on an individual basis. It’s not something we can do all the time, but when we do it’s really nice to see.”

Read more about last year's Falmouth Big Fix by clicking this link

Tags: Deanna Bussiere, Big Fix, Heroes in Transition, Falmouth, Falmouth Big Fix, veterans, Nicole Spencer, John Martin, Keith Trott, Falmouth Toyota, Matt Murphy

HAC Energy Assessments in High Demand

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Feb 16, 2018 @ 10:36 AM
HAC Energy-1.jpgThe HAC Energy team includes Jim Ames (from left), Suzanne Smith, Jo Ann Cournoyer and Ruth Bechtold.

Typically on Cape Cod this is a slow time of year, but don’t tell that to HAC’s Energy Department which is busier than ever. “We are in high demand,” Suzanne Smith, HAC Energy’s intake/outreach coordinator, said.

Smith and Ruth Bechtold, who manages the Energy Department, attributed that demand to the frigid temperatures which have left its mark on the Cape this winter. Because of the weather, residents are looking for ways to keep their home warmer and reduce their energy costs.

Working with Cape Light Compact, HAC offers free energy assessments throughout the year to low-income residents living in single-family and multi-family homes on Cape Cod and the Islands, as well as Wareham. Those who receive fuel assistance or are eligible to receive fuel assistance or discounted utility rates can qualify for a HAC energy assessment.

HAC’s energy auditors, Jim Ames and Joshua Trott, conduct the assessments, which include replacing all inefficient light bulbs with energy efficient LED bulbs and checking refrigerators, freezers, window air conditioning units, dehumidifiers, and washing machines to determine if they are eligible for replacement.

As part of the assessment, they will inspect a home’s heating system to see whether it should be repaired or replaced. In some instances those services can be performed through HAC’s HEARTWAP (Heating Emergency Assistance Retrofit Task Weatherization Assistance Program).

The auditors also look at whether a home can benefit from insulation and air sealing which “seals up all the air pathways,” Smith said.

“If all air leaks are not sealed, it can be like having an open window in your house,” Bechtold explained. “Sealing all those cracks makes sure no warm, humid air escapes into the attic where it can create moisture issues.”

HAC’s weatherization measures can also include the installation of vents which allows an attic to properly breathe and helps to minimize issues with moisture that can lead to mold.

Both Smith and Bechtold agreed that the work HAC’s Energy Department does is not only important, but rewarding.

“We’re helping people save money, save energy and increase the overall comfort of the home, and in doing so we’re also staying true to what the agency’s values are,” Smith said. “We really enjoy and get a lot of satisfaction out of helping those who need our services the most.”

Schedule an Energy Assessment Today

You can schedule an energy assessment by calling Cape Light Compact at 800-797-6699. 

HAC Energy provides no cost energy assessments and weatherization measures to income-eligible homeowners and renters. If you receive fuel assistance or a discounted utility rate, or you are income-eligible for fuel assistance, you will receive these services through HAC. 

Tags: Energy Assessments, Cape Light Compact, HAC Energy, saving energy, Energy Audit, Weatherization, Ruth Bechtold, Suzanne Smith, Jim Ames, Joshua Trott, energy efficiency

Annual Dinner to Honor Those Making Impact on the Cape

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Feb 09, 2018 @ 01:57 PM

HAC Annual Dinner Photo (February 9, 2018).jpg

HAC’s 44th Annual Dinner & Volunteer Recognition will be held on Thursday, May 3, from 5 to 7:30 PM, at the Cape Codder Resort & Spa in Hyannis. 

The event, which is being sponsored by Shepley Wood Products will honor individuals, businesses, and organizations making an impact in the community.

It is also a way for HAC to honor its volunteers who support the agency in a number of ways, from cooking meals at the agency’s family shelters to assisting with mailings to driving shelter clients to and from appointments to serving as childcare assistants in our shelters.

“The event is a special time for us to recognize our wonderful volunteers who give so much to our clients and staff throughout the year,” HAC’s Volunteer Coordinator Mary Everett-Patriquin said. 

The theme of this year’s Annual Dinner is “Doing Great Things Together” and HAC will be using that concept in handing out the following awards: Volunteer of the Year; Business Partner; Human Service Partner; and the Making a Difference Award. HAC will be announcing award recipients later this month.

The Annual Dinner is free for all 2017 volunteers. There is a $20 entry fee for all other attendees.

Registration for the Annual Dinner will be available online at HAConCapeCod.org
starting Thursday, February 22. Click this link to read about last year's Annual Meeting. 

Tags: HAC Annual Meeting, Annual Meeting, Mary Everett Patriquin, volunteer, Annual Dinner

HAC Supports Homeless During Arctic Blast

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Thu, Feb 08, 2018 @ 05:24 PM
Derick Bussiere-Edited (2718).jpgHomeless Outreach Specialist Derick Bussiere was one of four HAC staffers to assist the region’s homeless during last month’s stretch of frigid temperatures. 

The start of the new year brought with it one of the longest stretches of sub-freezing weather Cape Cod has seen in recent years. While many were able to retreat safely into the comfort of their own homes, there were some in the region who did not have that luxury.

Understanding the danger facing the Cape’s homeless, HAC lent its expertise and resources to a regional effort to get these individuals off the street and into temporary housing. “This was a result of the community, social service agencies, and the town coming together within probably a 24- to 48-hour window and putting together a plan so it would run as smoothly as possible,” HAC Homeless Outreach Specialist Derick Bussiere said. “It was really about life and death.”

The plan involved HAC and several social service agencies – Vinfen, Duffy Health Center, St. Joseph’s House, and the AIDS Support Group of Cape Cod – working closely with the Barnstable Police Department, the Town of Barnstable, and local churches to identify homeless individuals on the streets and woods of Cape Cod and moving them into area motels.

Funding for the temporary motel stays was provided by the Barnstable Police Department as well as Duffy Health Center’s In From the Streets, a program started in 2005 to support the homeless.

"It was more than likely people would have died. It was that cold out."

- Ann Marie Peters

HAC’s Homeless Outreach team, which includes Bussiere, Deborah McDonnell and Shannon Tracy, were joined by HAC Assistant Director of Family and Individuals Services Ann Marie Peters in conducting assessments and outreach to homeless individuals staying in hotels. They also provided transportation for the homeless to get to the hotels. 

Bussiere estimated that over 30 homeless individuals were placed in area motels, some for as long as 10 days, to keep them safe from the arctic temperatures. 

Last month’s weather, Bussiere said, enabled HAC staff to reconnect with some of the region’s chronic homeless who are typically harder to reach. “It does bring some of them out of the woodwork where we as outreach workers are able to try and engage with the individuals at that time they’re in the hotel or shelter,” he said. “After the weather gets nicer, they may disappear, but at least we’re able to make contact and put a name to a face and start building a relationship for when the individual is ready to try and get services.” 

The most important aspect of the community effort, Peters said, is that everyone had access to safe, secure housing, even if it was temporary. “What would have happened had this group not coordinated services for this population?” she asked. “It is more than likely people would have died. It was that cold out. It was well below freezing and there were many people who would have passed away because they didn’t have adequate shelter.” 

In the spring, HAC will join the community groups and agencies involved in last month’s response to identify a long-term plan moving forward.

Support HAC's Homeless Outreach Efforts

Tags: Homeless on Cape Cod, homelessness, Derick Bussiere, winter, Deborah McDonnell, homeless outreach, Barnstable CCIT, Shannon Tracy, Ann Marie Peters

Donor Spotlight: Paul Hebert

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Jan 26, 2018 @ 03:48 PM
Paul Hebert-1.jpgMatt Pitta (left), co-host of last month's Shelter Cape Cod Telethon, interviews longtime HAC supporter Paul Hebert about the region's housing issues. 

When Paul and Carolyn Hebert arrived on Cape Cod in 1981 with their three daughters Aimee, Mary and Meg, finding a home was difficult. “We had to rent for two years because we couldn’t find housing we could afford,” he said. 

Fast forward 36 years later and Paul admitted the situation is even worse. “It was unreasonably high to buy a house back then, but now for people earning basic wages it is nearly impossible and getting more difficult every day,” he said.

It is for this reason that the Heberts have given to HAC for 20 years, highlighted by their most recent $1,000 donation to the agency at its 14th Annual Shelter Cape Cod Telethon last month. Paul made the donation on-air on behalf of the couple’s company, Charitable Redemption Partnership in Yarmouth, which utilizes proceeds from redeemable cans and bottles to support local charities on the Cape such as HAC.

“As a town councilor in Barnstable, I look to Housing Assistance Corporation as the best prepared to care for the least among us who need housing,” Paul said of his longtime support of the agency.

Paul’s history with HAC goes back to the mid-1980s when he convinced former CEO and founder Rick Presbrey to open the NOAH Shelter in Hyannis to provide emergency shelter for homeless individuals.

In 1991, the Heberts took their activism a step further when they started CHAMP Homes to care for homeless adolescents. “We realized there was more to be done and came to understand that there was this next group that was not being served,” Paul explained. “It was the young people, around 18 years of age, who were sleeping in various places in the community whether it was teaming up six to an apartment or couch surfing or sleeping in cars or the woods just to survive.”

The Heberts spent the next 24 years at CHAMP Homes and were recognized for their efforts with the Presbrey Public Service Award in 2006 at HAC’s Annual Meeting.

Though Paul and his wife stepped down from CHAMP Homes in 2015, he remains as passionate about housing issues as he did when he was first introduced to HAC three decades ago. And he views HAC as a pivotal player in addressing those issues on Cape Cod. “I believe Housing Assistance Corporation is a standard bearer,” Paul said. “They hold the flag to deal with this battle so we have to keep supporting them.”

Why I Give: Paul Hebert

As a Barnstable Town Councilor, Paul Hebert paints a grim picture of the housing reality on Cape Cod. “Living on Cape Cod is not a realistic dream for most people,” he said. 

This is why he believes housing development – building more affordable rentals and homes for the Cape’s workforce – is the region’s primary need. “We know Barnstable is short 1,200 rental units,” he said.

Hebert supports HAC because he understands it is best suited to address this need. “We have to build so many rentals and we are so far behind. I don’t know of any other organization that can do a better job and has the capacity to help than Housing Assistance Corporation,” he said.

With the completion of Sachem’s Path on Nantucket, HAC has developed more than 500 units of affordable housing since its inception. It is in the midst of constructing 44 apartments in Bourne and is in the planning stages of building eight affordable and workforce apartments in Hyannis.

Through the Cape Community Housing Partnership, a joint initiative between HAC and Community Development Partnership in Eastham, it is also providing community leaders and residents with the tools to boost affordable housing that is sorely needed in the region.

Make A Donation

Tags: Affordable Housing on Cape Cod, homelessness, Shelter Cape Cod Telethon, Rick Presbrey, Housing on Cape Cod, Paul Hebert, CHAMP Homes, Charitable Redemption Partnership

Community Leaders, Clients Featured at Annual Telethon

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Thu, Jan 25, 2018 @ 05:39 PM
Shelter Email-1.jpgTwo Angel House clients, Samantha (second from right) and Jeana (right), had an opportunity to share their powerful, touching stories on-air at HAC’s Shelter Cape Cod Telethon.

Since last January, 30-year-old Samantha has been at HAC’s Angel House where she lives with her six-month-old son. “Angel House, I would say, has given me, me back,” she said during last month’s 14th Annual Shelter Cape Cod Telethon which was televised on cable access channels Cape-wide. 

Samantha was one of several clients who told their story during the telethon. The annual event raises funds for the agency’s programs and brings awareness to the work HAC is doing to provide housing services and solutions to those most in need on Cape Cod and the Islands.

The telethon raised nearly $75,000. The funds will allow HAC to help those like Samantha who had struggled with addiction for roughly 15 years. “I am 16 months clean today,” she said. “It has been a really long ride and it’s been really difficult… Last year I was in a sober house and became pregnant early in my sobriety. I made the decision to move to Angel House. Coming to Angel House was probably the best decision I have ever made in my entire life.”

Telethon co-host Matt Pitta told viewers that these types of stories are an important reminder of “how the money you folks have donated over the years has made a huge difference, a real difference, in people’s lives.”

2017-Shelter-Telethon.jpgTelethon Co-Host Mindy Todd interviews State Representative Sarah Peake who reminded the audience that housing is not a town issue, but a Cape-wide issue that is affecting the entire region. 

HAC has made a difference, CEO Alisa Galazzi said, by providing clients with safe, stable housing. “That is what our mission is: keep them safe, get them housed, but really help take them to the next level in their life.

“You’ve got to have housing,” she continued. “It’s a basic human need, and from housing we can talk about jobs. We can talk about health care. We can talk about living the life you want to live.”

This year’s telethon allowed not only HAC clients to tell their story, but HAC staff, including homeless outreach specialists Derick Bussiere and Deborah McDonnell, and Paula Mallard, the facility director at the Village at Cataumet.

The telethon also featured an array of guests – State Senator Julian Cyr, Duffy Health Center CEO Heidi Nelson, and Paula Schnepp, coordinator for the Cape and Islands Regional Network to Address Homelessness, among others – who are taking steps to address the region’s housing needs.

State Representative Sarah Peake was one of those guests who underscored the importance of that work. “I can’t tell you, especially at this time of year when it gets cold, how many people are either homeless or one rent check away from becoming homeless,” she said. “I’m here to make the point for the people who are watching that this is not a Mid-Cape issue. This is not an Upper Cape issue. This is a Cape-wide issue.”

Support HAC's Homeless Shelters

 

Tags: Affordable Housing on Cape Cod, Shelter Cape Cod Telethon, Mindy Todd, Angel House, Matt Pitta, affordable housing, Alisa Galazzi, Sarah Peake

Holiday Giving: A Birthday Wish

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Jan 19, 2018 @ 05:05 PM

Ariel Martynyak-Edited.jpg

Throughout the year, our donors give to our clients in a variety of ways. That giving is always magnified during the holiday season. The following are a few of the heartwarming stories of how those young and old, local businesses, and families took time to remember those we serve last month. 

Last month, Ariel Martynyak celebrated her 7th birthday by donating her gifts to children in need. “I wanted to donate this to other kids,” said Ariel, a first grader at West Villages Elementary School in Barnstable.

Tags: donations, charitable giving, holiday giving, 2017 Holiday Giving

Holiday Giving: Realtors Give Back

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Jan 19, 2018 @ 04:57 PM
Realtors Gift Baskets (December 2017).jpgCape Cod & Island's Associaton of Realtors Patricia Pry (left) real estate agents joined Sarah Lapsley (second from right) and her husband Gregory Martin in dropping off donations to HAC's Mary LeClair last month. 

For the fourth straight year, the Cape Cod & Island’s Association of Realtors (CCIAOR) Young Professionals Network worked with local Realtors to collect items for our Welcome Home Gift Basket Program. The donations - 10 laundry baskets full of basic home goods – will be given to our clients in shelter when they make the transition into permanent housing. CCIAOR Member Programs Director Patricia Pry dropped off the donations to HAC’s Mary LeClair along with Sarah Lapsley and Gregory Martin of Kinlin Grover Real Estate in Yarmouth Port. 

Tags: Welcome Home Gift Basket Drive, donations, charitable giving, holiday giving, Mary LeClair, Cape Cod & Islands Associaton of Realtors, HAC donors, Welcome Home Gift Basket Program, 2017 Holiday Giving

Holiday Giving: A Tree of Presents

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Jan 19, 2018 @ 04:51 PM
Whole Foods-1.jpgHAC's Deanna Bussier (from left) with Courtney Wittenstein and Lucy Fernandes of Whole Foods Hyannis. 

Since opening four years ago in Hyannis, Whole Foods has made a commitment to supporting HAC and those most in need. This past December, it did so once again as part of the store’s Giving Tree, collecting toys for 48 children who celebrated Christmas in our shelters.

Whole Foods Metro Marketing Team Leader Courtney Wittenstein talked about the relationship the store has forged with HAC. “We are just really happy we’ve been able to continue this partnership that has allowed us to help our local community and our local families in need,” she said. 

Tags: Deanna Bussiere, donations, giving, holiday giving, HAC donors, Whole Foods, 2017 Holiday Giving

Holiday Giving: No Yankee Swap 

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Jan 19, 2018 @ 04:43 PM
Dooley Family.jpgCindy (left) and Tess Dooley with a few of the presents they collected for our families in need last month. 

Instead of their annual Yankee Swap, Fred, Cindy and Tess Dooley of Marstons Mills convinced their family to forego the holiday tradition and give back to HAC’s clients instead. Gifts came from all over the country, including Pennsylvania, Florida, New Hampshire and Vermont.  Thanks to the Dooley’s generosity a total of 10 families and 14 children had presents to open last month. “This has more meaning to us,” Cindy said. “And it’s way more fun.”

Give Hope to a HAC Client

Tags: Holiday Drive, donations, giving, charitable giving, holiday giving, 2017 Holiday Giving